Why Tech Founders Should Always Put Family First

April 22, 2015

6:00 pm

I recently read an interesting post by Devon McDonald of OpenView on how tech companies should help employees find a healthy work-family balance. McDonald has been able to find a balance thanks to OpenView’s work culture of always putting family first. In fact, companies should encourage both women and men to put family first because it will help the business grow. And yes, there’s research to support this argument.

If you’re a founder or manager, it’s good to remember that “if family comes first, work does not come second. Life comes together.”  You will help create a new workplace culture in the country, where work and family life are valued equally. In her Ted Talk, “Can We All ‘Have It All?’Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, calls for full equality in the workplace, where we are not just mean valuing women on male terms.

“It means creating a much wider range of equally respected choices for women and for men. And to get there, we have to change our workplaces, our policies, and our culture,” said Slaughter.

Slaughter explains that this cultural change starts at the workplace and by also creating better infrastructures of care for breadwinners and caregivers. Part of the cultural change required means “re-socializing men.”

“Increasingly, in developed countries women are socialized to believe that our place is no longer only in the home, but men are actually still where they always were. Men are still socialized to believe that they have to be breadwinners, that to derive their self-worth from how high they can climb over other men on a career ladder,” explained Slaughter.

By creating a work culture that debunks this false idea that men’s self worth is equal to how successful he is in his career, companies can lead a change in our society. As McDonald explained in her post, by propagating a culture of equality, your workers are more likely to:

1. Work Harder

If your company values employees who put family first, they are more likely to be more focused and efficient because they have a reason to get home.

“Having a family has not slowed down my growth at firm — quite the contrary, actually. Why? I haven’t been put in a position where I have to choose between the two,” explained McDonald.

2. Be Loyal

If you don’t offer flexibility because you’re in a rush to grow, your employees will burn out, and they will leave. Studies have shown that employees in flexible and effective workplaces are more engaged with their work. They’re more satisfied and more loyal. They have lower levels of stress and higher levels of mental health.

3. Feel Valued

If you show employees that you value their lives outside work, it shows care. As Slaughter points out, work and life aren’t two completely separate, competing things — they reinforce each other. And employees will repay you when they don’t have to choose one over the other.

Change is possible if you look at the benefits it can bring to our economy. And tech companies, known for being early adopters of disruptive ideas, should set the example.

Read Devon McDonald’s post, “Work and Family Shouldn’t Be Either/Or Choice for Tech Employees” here.

Image Credit: Flickr/ GynLowe

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Camila has been heavily active in South Florida’s tech startup community, where she is a co-host of a local radio show called pFunkcast. Camila previously worked at Greenpeace International and the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in various communication roles. A proud Brazilian who spent most of he life in Peru, she is passionate about traveling and documentaries.

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